Connect with us

House

Gas tax opponents hold rally in Montgomery

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Saturday, the Conservative Coalition held a rally in front of the State House in Montgomery to express their opposition to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s plan to raise gas taxes on Alabama motorists by ten cents a gallon.

Dr. Lou Campomenosi with the Coalition for Common Sense emceed the event.

He said that the Alabama Business Council wanted the tax increase was not enough reason for the legislature to do it; “They wanted Common Core too and we were never able to get rid of that either.”

State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) warned that the gas tax increase, “Has no expiration date. It will be in perpetuity. If gas prices go up to $2.50 or $3.00 a gallon we still have to pay the tax or when Trump goes up after President Trump is gone it goes up to $5 a gallon we still have to pay it.”

“There is no sunset proposition,” Zeigler said. There are already moneys available that could fund our roads.

Auditor Zeigler has introduced his own plan to fund roads without raising taxes.

“Plan Z stands for zero tax increase and zero road congestion,” Zeigler said. “$63.5 million a year is being diverted from the highway fund to other purposes. $300 million has been diverted away in the last decade.”

Advertisement

We have a self-inflicted wound in our road and bridge work because they have diverted $300 million Zeigler said. “Use the $63.5 million to pay for a 20 year highway bond issue. That would produce $950 million up front. Then use that as Alabama’s matching share to Donald Trump infrastructure plan, Right there is enough money to fund our immediate highway needs.”

Zeigler said that his Plan z also has some accountability. It directs that all of that money be used for actual road and bridge work, “Not for adding secretaries, assistants or buying equipment from your buddies.”

Zeigler says that there needs to be a Management audit of the Alabama Department of Transportation and called on the legislature to give the authority to authority such an audit.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Zeigler said that he also has a plan to “Backfill he money for courts and state troopers in the general fund. This year’s general fund revenue is $23 million more than last year because of the Trump economy and the Kay Ivey economy. Medicaid surprised everybody because it requested $40 million less than last fiscal year. The reason is the Trump economy. Add $23 and $40 million and you get $63 million without cutting any agencies.”

Apryl Marie Fogel with Conservatives for Better Leadership said, “We need to call all of our elected officials and tell them that we don’t want this.”

“66 percent of the gas tax will go to the Alabama Department of Transportation,” Fogel said. 25 percent will go to counties and about 8.5 will go to towns and cities.
“I am for sunsetting any gas tax increase I am for offsetting any gas tax increase,” with a decrease in another tax such as no sales tax on food.

“We need you. We need your neighbors. We need your Sunday school class” to call their legislators and the Speakers office and the Governor’s office and tell them to vote “No,” Fogel said. Call, write, knock on doors, come down here and walk the halls.

North Alabama Tea Party Chairman Charles Orr said. “Alabama takes in over $10 billion each year and that amount of money is going up every year with the growing economy. What are you doing with that money that is more important than fixing your roads fixing your infrastructure?”

“Did you know that we raised the gas tax in 2016?” Orr said. They are saying that we last raised in 1992; but that is incorrect. The legislature raised it two cents per gallon. That is $62 million. They call that an inspection fee. What do the do with that money? “They gave that to the people that distribute your gasoline to make sure that they don’t cheat you. Is that not the fox watching the hen house?”

Campomenosi said, “They couldn’t raise the gas tax in he last two years, because they knew they would face the voters.” They don’t run for reelection for four years they think that we will forget about this by then.

Retired Air Force Colonel Mike Parsons said “We dare defend our rights to be told the truth.” First we heard that it was a 20 cent tax increase, then 26 cents, then 15, then 12, and finally ten cents. Are we supposed to be grateful that they only raised our taxes ten cents?

Restore the $63 million they take out of bridges and asphalt, Parsons said. “We want to be told the truth and not treated like serfs.”

Now we are hearing that they are going to do this in a special session Parsons said. They are doing that so that we don’t have the opportunity to come here and speak our minds in a public hearing.

Frank Dillman spoke representing the Alabama Libertarian Party.

“We are tired of tightening our belts. The belt tightening needs to be done here,” Dillman said. “Rep. Tommy Hanes has come out and said We deserve the right to vote on it and would also like to see local referendums.

The speakers also urged the legislature to repeal Common Core, leave Alabama’s ethics laws in place without weakening them, bring back the high school graduation exam, and to continue to fight for the lives of the unborn.

The 2019 regular legislative session begins on Tuesday.

Advertisement

House

House passes landfill bill allowing alternative materials as temporary cover

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday to change the statutory definition so that temporary “cover” in landfills can be a material other than “earth.”

House Bill 140 is sponsored by State Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton.

The bill allows landfills to use alternative daily covers in place of earth to cover landfills until the next business day. “The EPA has allowed this since 1979,” Baker said. It would save landfills the cost of using earth for daily cover.

“This does not change anything in the operating rules for landfills,” Baker said.

A number of members from both parties expressed concerns about this bill on Tuesday, so the bill was carried over until Thursday.

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon told reporters, “Sometimes in a debate you can see that the debate is not a filibuster or anti-debate; but rather is an honest effort by members to understand a bill.”

“There was a lot of misinformation out there,” McCutcheon said. The Environmental Services Agency and ADEM were brought in to explain the members and address their concerns.

Advertisement

McCutcheon said that human biosolids is a separate issue and that Rep. Tommy Hanes has introduced legislation dealing with that issue.

Alternative daily cover is often described as cover material other than earthen material placed on the surface of the active face of a municipal solid waste landfill at the end of each operating day. It is utilized to control vectors, fires, odors, blowing litter, and scavenging. Federal and various state regulations require landfill operators to use such earthen material unless other materials are allowed as alternatives. (Mitchell Williams writing on Oct 31 in JDSUPRA)

Soil cover can use valuable air space. Further, it can generate the need to excavate and haul soil to the facility. Alternative daily covers are often advocated to be a more efficient and cost-effective means of cover. (Williams)

Advertisement
Advertisement

Baker said that it would be up to ADEM (the Alabama Department of Environmental Management) in the permit whether to allow a proposed alternative cover or not.

Baker said, “This bill does not change any of the materials used as cover.” “This would keep us from having to use that good earth in landfills when other materials are available. If it becomes a nuisance ADEM can revoke a cover on the permit. Daily cover has to be approved at the discretion of ADEM.”

Baker said that only materials not constituted as a risk to health or are not a hazard can be used.

An environmental attorney shared the list of ADEM alternative covers with the Alabama Political Reporter. The list includes: auto fluff, excavated waste, synthetic tarps, coal ash, petroleum contaminated soil, automotive shredder residue, shredder fluff, wiring insulation, contaminated soils, paper mill (including wood debris, ash shaker grit, clarifier sludge, dregs, lime), 50% on-site soil and 50% tire chips, spray-on polymer-based materials, reusable geosynthetic cover, automobile shredder fluff, tarps, foundry sand, clay emulsion known as USA Cover Top clay emulsion, non-hazardous contaminated soil, non-hazardous solid waste clarifier sludge, steckle dust all generated from Nucor Steel Tuscaloosa Inc., non-coal ash from Kimberly Clark operations, lagoon sludge from Armstrong World Industries operations, meltshop refractory material from Outokumpu Stainless USA operations, paper mill waste (non-coal ash, slaker grits, dregs, and lime), biodegradable synthetic film, fly ash, residue from wood chipper or paper, slurry with a fire retardant and tactifierl,Posi Shell Cover System, waste Cover, foundry waste, 50% soil and 50% automobile shredder fluff, incinerator ash, green waste to soil
Sure Clay Emulsion Coating, alternative cover materials (manufactured), compost produced by IREP Montgomery-MRF, LLC, 50% saw dust mixed with 50% soil, and waste soils considered to be special waste.

McCutcheon said that members did not understand that these were just temporary covers. That was explained to them.

Alabama landfills have used alternative covers for years; but three people sued saying that this was not allowed under Alabama law and that ADEM had exceeded its mandate by permitting alternate covers. On October 11, 2019 the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals found in favor of the plaintiffs.

HB140, if passed, would address this oversight in the Alabama legal code so that ADEM and the landfills can legally continue to use alternate covers and not have the added expense of quarrying dirt for daily cover.

A Senate version of the same bill received a favorable report last week from the Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee.

HB140 now goes to the Alabama Senate.

Continue Reading

House

Alabama lawmakers advance bill banning transgender athletes in K-12 sports

Jessa Reid Bolling

Published

on

A House committee voted Wednesday to advance a bill that would ban transgender teenagers from playing on the sports teams of the gender they identify with. 

House Bill 35, titled the Gender Is Real Legislative Act, or GIRL Act, would require student athletes in K-12 schools to participate as the gender listed on their birth certificate, preventing transgender athletes from competing as the gender they identify as.

Sponsored by Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, the bill passed the House State Government Committee on an 8-4 vote. The bill will now go to the full House. 

The bill, according to Pringle, is aimed at preserving the accomplishments of women and to prevent women from having to compete against athletes who were born male.

“Gender is real. There are biological differences between boys and girls that influence athletic performance,” Pringle said in a statement. “The GIRL Bill seeks to support female student-athletes, so that they may compete against each other and not have to compete against male students with an unfair advantage.”

Opponents say that HB35 was born out of prejudice against transgender youth rather than seeking to protect women in athletics. 

Carmarion D. Anderson, Alabama state director of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an LGBTQ+ rights organization, called the bill a “political advertisement” with no supporting evidence

Advertisement

Anderson said she believes this bill will do harm to young transgender youth by segregating them from competing in sports events, further contributing to the ostracization trans youth feel in society.

“We’re concerned about a student’s mental health when they cannot participate in the sports that are comfortable for them, and the level of dysphoria they already face when they are transitioning,” said Anderson. 

Anderson also said that while it is unfortunate that this bill passed the committee, HRC will be at the forefront to try to see the bill defeated. 

Advertisement
Advertisement

The bill now heads to the full House.

 

Continue Reading

House

Legislation may harm pets locked in hot cars, not help, vets and advocates say

Eddie Burkhalter

Published

on

A bill passed by the Alabama Senate last week lawmakers say will help keep pets trapped in hot cars safe, might actually endanger the animals, according to some animal advocates and veterinarians.

That bill was written by a dog breeder who some worry purposefully wrote the bill to make it harder to keep animals safe, and to instead protect breeders from having animals confiscated, they told APR this week. 

Mindy Gilbert, The Human Society’s Alabama state director, told APR by phone on Tuesday that she’s certain that the senate bill’s sponsor, Alabama Sen. Jimmy Holley, R-Elba, “does have good intentions, but I think the devils in the details.” 

Several attempts this week to reach Rep. Holley were unsuccessful. 

The bill would grant criminal immunity to a civilian who rescues an animal from a vehicle, and would provide civil and criminal immunity to first responders who do so. The legislation also makes it a misdemeanor crime if a pet dies in a hot car. 

Gilbert said that while those might also sound like great ideas, the bill would actually reduce criminal penalties for allowing a pet to die in a hot car. 

“Our current cruelty statute, which has been used in cases like this, would define that as a class C felony,” Gilbert said. 

Advertisement

A Trussville woman in 2018 was charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals for leaving her dog in a locked car while shopping in Walmart. The dog died after police broke out a window and removed the distressed animal. 

The bill also states that the ambient temperature of the interior of a vehicle must be 99 degrees or hotter to be charged under the legislation. 

Gilbert said she’s spoken with numerous veterinarians who all said that 99 degrees is too hot to be safe for pets trapped in cars. 

Advertisement
Advertisement

Gilbert said that for many breeds of pets, and pets with compromised health, “that requirement in order to rescue them will absolutely sentence them to death,” and there are other aspects of the bill that trouble her. 

“I think everybody was very focused on providing immunity to first responders, which I think is fabulous,” Gilbert said of the legislation, but worried that it doesn’t include animal control personnel in its definition of public safety officials and covered by the bill’s immunity clause. 

Holley’s legislation defines public safety officials as “An individual employed by a law enforcement agency, fire department, or 911 emergency service.” 

Dr. Mark Colicchio, a veterinarian in Spanish Fort, reached out to Sen. Holley and all of the members of the state Senate Judiciary Committee about his concerns with the bill prior to its passage in the senate. Holley put Colicchio in touch with the man he said wrote the bill, Norman Horton.

Colicchio said he spoke to Horton, owner of the Dale County german shepherd breeding company Triple S Shepherds, at length about his concerns, but that none were addressed in the final legislation. 

“There are a lot of temperature references in there which make no sense whatsoever,” Colicchio said. 

Colicchio said he spoke with Horton about the bill’s language that required the ambient temperature of the interior of a vehicle to be 99 degrees or higher before a person could be charged. He said he told Horton that there’s no practical way for a public safety official to measure the ambient temperature inside a locked vehicle from outside, to which he said Horton suggested they call carry digital temperature readers. 

Such devices measure surface temperatures, and wouldn’t  be able to read the temperature inside a locked car, Colicchio said. 

After speaking with veterinarians at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine Cholicchio said they looked at data that suggested that if the outside temperature of a vehicle, which can be more easily measured, was 78 degrees an animal trapped inside with no ventilation could be in jeopardy. 

Colicchio said he suspects the legislation was purposely written to protect owners from having their animals taken from them in the event they’re left in hot cars. 

“He doesn’t want breeders to risk having their valuable dogs stolen out of the car because somebody thinks they’re at risk,” Colicchio said. “…When you structure a law to benefit yourself, and animals suffer for it, that just gets to me.” 

Horton, speaking by phone Wednesday,  told APR that he wrote the bill to protect animals and to establish the proper way to rescue an animal in distress. 

“This is America, and this is Alabama, and if someone’s gonna be guilty of a crime or charged for a crime then they need to have committed that crime” Horton said. 

Horton said “we don’t need vigilante justice” so he wrote the bill to make clear how best to enter a vehicle if an animal is in need of help. 

Asked how he decided that 99 degrees inside a vehicle was the temperature at which a pet was in danger, Horton said “I got the figure after talking to several veterinarians.” 

Asked which veterinarians he spoke to get that figure, Horton said “that’s immaterial” and declined to name them. 

Horton likened the matter to speed laws, and said while some speed limits are set at 70 MPH, some people, such as police officers, can drive safely at speeds up to 113mph. 

Asked why the bill doesn’t include animal control officers in the immunity protections, Horton said that “it does.” 

Horton pointed to the bill’s language that defines public safety officials as “An individual employed by a law enforcement agency” and said “go to Tuscaloosa. Go to any of the cities around, and animal control officers are employed by the police department. They’re sworn officers.” 

Some animal control officers who work in municipal law enforcement agencies are sworn officers, Gilbert said, but many are not, and in the counties, where animal control is operated as stand-alone agencies, animal control officers are not sworn officers and wouldn’t be immune from prosecution under the legislation. 

Asked why his bill didn’t include all animal control officers, whether they were sworn officers working in law enforcement agencies or not, Horton suggested that it was to ensure owners could be charged with crimes 

“Do we want to charge for the crime when they do something like this or just let them go?” Horton said. 

Horton declined to answer a question about the bill’s language that limits the charge of killing an animal in a hot vehicle to a misdemeanor and soon after ended the interview. 

“It’s not to help the animals,” Colicchio said of the legislation. “That’s the wolf in sheep’s clothing.” 

It was unclear Wednesday if Holley’s bill had a sponsor in the state House. There were no similar bills filed Wednesday, according to the state Legislature’s website.

Continue Reading

Crime

House Judiciary Committee passes bail reform law named for Aniah Blanchard

Jessa Reid Bolling

Published

on

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday passed a bill to give judges more discretion in denying bail to people accused of committing violent crimes. 

The bill is named for Aniah Blanchard, a 19-year-old Alabama college student who was kidnapped and murdered last year. The man charged with her murder, Ibraheed Yazeed, was out on bond for charges including kidnapping and attempted murder at the time he was arrested in connection with Blanchard’s case. 

Currently, judges can only deny bond in capital murder cases. The bill would allow judges to deny bail in cases involving certain violent offenses. 

Blanchard’s father, Elijah Blanchard, stepmother, Yashiba Blanchard, and mother, Angela Harris, spoke to the House Judiciary Committee today in support of the law. 

“This would not have happened to our child if this bill would have been in place,” Harris said. “We can save a lot of lives by doing this because, because with repeat violent offenders, they are going to repeat.”

If the bill passes the full House and Senate, it will appear on the ballot in November.

 

Advertisement

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Authors

Advertisement

The V Podcast

Facebook

Trending

.